Whether it's a serious accident, or self-inflicted or violence from others, the body's response is often enough to get people through these horrible events. Your adrenaline pumps, your pulse quickens, and your senses go into overdrive. In the aftermath, the events never really leave you when you experience death-defying experiences, like the people in these stories. They all saw life flash before their eyes and lived to tell the tale. The stories will get your adrenaline pumping too!
"On 16th of December 2004, I was with a friend having a cold one in a bar on the Koh San Road in Bangkok, Thailand. It was the last week of my bumming around the world and we had a decision to make.
Do we go home for Christmas or spend it on the beach in Phuket? Neither of us had been to Phuket and we thought it would be an awesome end to living out of a backpack for the last 18 months, but on the other hand, Christmas at home with the family was also appealing.
So we flipped a coin and went home to the UK.
Flipping that coin a second earlier or later could have sent us into the path of the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami."
"I did some volunteering abroad in a place that had a ton of feral street dogs. Usually they minded their own business and were easily scared away (I tended to carry a piece of rebar in my backpack for this purpose), but occasionally they would gang up and maul people, generally kids and old people.
One night I got woken up by the sound of a bunch of them barking and howling; I wouldn't have minded except I also heard the sound of a woman screaming. I ran out into the street to check it out, turned a corner and saw the biggest freaking pack of them I'd ever seen - like, 30 dogs - all circling around this lady. I started yelling and throwing rocks thinking they'd scatter... which is when the whole pack immediately turned their attention towards me. They were coming at me with their teeth bared and their ears back and I remember being really intensely aware of the thought, OK, I'm going to die right now...
It was at that moment that a dude in a rickshaw came tearing down the road, flashing his lights and honking. This made the dogs bolt. Driver saved my life, or at the very least prevented a wicked bad mauling. It was a really great affirmation about how most people will do what they can to help you when you need it."
"I was working on a pipe crew in 1998, we were installing a large concrete vault in a pretty big hole.
I'm standing in a ditch about six feet deep marking grade while the excavator operator is digging. So to the front of me is a large excavator bucket, itself weighing hundreds of pounds and backed by powerful hydraulics and thousands of pounds of steel armature, and behind me is a solid concrete wall about a foot thick. And the ditch is only a few feet wide and too tall for me to jump or climb out of with any kind of speed.
Suddenly, the excavator spins to one side and the arm snaps out to full extension with full force, and the operator shuts it down. The bucket misses my head by about a foot. He climbs out of the machine, visibly shaken, and tells me that something has failed on the machine and the arm 'wasn't supposed to have done that.' So as he's been digging he's been noticing that ever so slightly there's a bit of a delay between his inputs and the machine's actions, and in the moment before failure he just felt 'something wasn't right' and tried to pull the bucket in; when it didn't seem to want to, he turned the excavator 'just in case' and that's when the arm extended.
Had he not, I would have been crushed to death.
There were two other excavator operators on that crew, and they were basically idiots. Had one of them been with us that day, I'm sure I'd be dead."
"I don’t know if I would’ve died, but when I was very small, I woke up in the middle of the night with a feeling like the dog was missing. I woke up everyone in the house and we went looking for the dog. Somehow, we were all outside when a fire bomb was thrown into the neighbor’s house and their house exploded setting only one room in our house on fire—mine and my sister’s.
If I hadn’t had everyone frantically searching for the dog, who knows what would’ve happened. The dog must have known something was up, too because she had gotten out of the house and was hiding under a porch across the street."
"When I was in junior high I was carpooling with another kid and her mom. For a reason I can't fathom, she decided to race a transit train hoping to get across the tracks before the train stopped traffic. She put the pedal to the metal. I was in the back seat screaming NO. She hit the train.
Because I was in the backseat I was injured the least. I had a pointy piece of metal pierce through my jeans and flesh until it hit bone. Had she been a second faster the train would have hit us broad side and killed us all. This was 1980. She was not charged or sued. It was labelled an accident. She and her daughter suffered broken bones, lacerations, and concussions.
Because of the parental acrimony, I couldn't be friends with the girl anymore. The family moved away before the end of the school year. I know at the time her mum was still not working, but I'm not sure if she ever went back to work. Clearly she had or had developed some kind of mental or emotional problem, which the accident probably made worse.
I wondered if she was a drinker who had began day drinking, but I never mentioned my suspicion to anyone."
"I worked as a residential elevator mechanic. I was a recent hire to a local company and my boss and I were on an install. I wasn't yet aware that he knew profoundly less than me about the work, because he presented himself to me as an experienced mechanic. As it turns out, he was a salesman who left another company to start his own, and only took up field work when he couldn't keep a mechanic...I found out why.
The custom home we were installing in was supposed to be closing the next day, so my boss was under huge amounts of pressure to finish everything up. He didn't know how to wire the controller, so he caused a massive, dangerous, ridiculous problem that should have been a glaring neon sign for me to just walk away from that job right then. I was absolutely shocked at the problem he caused, because he not only had to ignore every single basic safety rule, he had to know almost nothing about how the controller worked. I was really puzzled and concerned but decided to help him get everything sorted out, so I was on top of the elevator cab trying to start on step one to fix the mess he made.
In residential elevators, certain kinds of drives have a motor mounted to the top of the rails. In those cases, we install a steel beam in the ceiling in order to connect a chain hoist so we can lift the motor into place (and sometimes also large rail segments depending on the rail configuration). The 'lift beam' gets removed toward the end of the job when it's no longer needed.
I heard my boss above me on the top floor. I was thinking he was just taking a look at his mess up there from the landing. Then I heard him using the impact and I realized he was actually on a ladder above me working on something which is a HUGE safety no-no, so I started to wiggle my way out of where I was wedged so I could get out of the hoist way when I heard, 'DARN!' clang!
My boss, in a time crunch, apparently decided this might be a good time to take the lift beam down. And dropped it.
At first I thought, 'I really hope he just dropped the impact' and hunched over into a ball. Then, in at the last second, I realized nothing had hit me yet so I tried to lunge out of the hoist way. Not a moment later, the lift beam landed on me, striking me across my upper back.
As it turns out, if I hadn't made that tiny movement at the last second, the beam would have directly impacted my spine, severing it. Instead, the space 1/2" to the left of my spine, and my left upper back/shoulder muscles took most of the hit. I had damage to my C4-C6 vertebrae and I have permanent damage in the nerves and muscles in my upper back/shoulder, so I don't have full range of motion in my left arm."
"My wife was having a rough pregnancy. Tons of awful symptoms. Swelling, tiredness, nausea, low blood pressure, high blood pressure, back pain; that 'morning glow' never came.
Last week the back pain was particularly bad. Cripplingly bad. She couldn’t get up for work. And she had what she described as 'air pressure' in her stomach. Despite having a presentation she needed to host, she took the day off and we went to the OB.
She saw the OB briefly and the doctor told us to go to the ER to make sure everything was okay, as it vaguely sounded like a pulmonary embolism. My wife couldn’t take in a full breath, and something was off but we didn’t know what. Cue the long wait at the ER, wanting to go home and her thinking she could deal with the pain. We were hungry and tired.
About 10 hours later, the ER cleared her, no pulmonary embolism in the lungs found, but there were elevated liver enzymes found in her blood test. So off we went to Labor and Delivery, for a final blood pressure check before being released. They had to clear her also since she’s pregnant. Cue the doctor working in L&D coming to ask about her symptoms and the liver enzymes to clarify, and then taking over for the nurse and personally checking her blood pressure. Earlier in the ER, it was 130/something. High for pregnancy but not immediately concerning. But now it was 168. We weren't going home. She was not even getting up to the elevator. She got wheeled upstairs and the OB got called.
The next bit happened quick. We were being asked a lot of questions about when the symptoms started, how far along she was; there was a sudden swarm of nurses around her and there was a huge sense of urgency in the room. Blood pressure was 186/93. She was being hooked up to the monitors, an IV to get platelets, and getting more blood drawn. She was about to get up to use the restroom and a doctor sternly told a nurse helping that she could not be up. Our OB entered the room and broke the news.
My wife has severe pre eclampsia and HELLP syndrome. She was giving birth, right then. It was not safe for her, or our baby. It was early, but there was no alternative. She was getting a steroid to help accelerate the development of our baby’s lungs, and once the platelets were done being administered, we were going to the operating room. She had an emergency c section and we were parents, at 29 weeks.
If that L&D doctor had not noticed her symptoms before she was cleared for release minutes later, she would have had a seizure, suffered organ failure and died that same night. The last week has been surreal. We knew parenthood was coming, but not like this, or so soon. Our baby is stable in the NICU and my wife is recovering."
"I can not confirm whether this would have been death, however, it would have forever changed my family. I was about 6 or 7 and I went along with my mom to go train the our new puppy.
The dog-training ground was quite far away from home and I remember that it was a big field surrounded by a forest and a highway on the side of it. I was told to stay in the car and play on my Gameboy. After an hour or so, I got bored and went to have a look at where my mum was with our puppy. The carpark was a little while from the training ground but I decided to walk towards her anyway. In the meantime, an older man started talking to me and the naive little boy I was I talked back.
He convinced me I was going the wrong way and told me he would take me to my mom and puppy. We ended up by the highway side and we were about to walk down the bank to the side of the highway where his car was parked. As I was about to disappear down the bank, I heard the loudest scream of my name from my mom, I looked back and felt the grip of the man tighten on my hand, but I was just in time to get my hand out of his grip and run towards my mother. My mom ran past me to see where this guy was, but he had just got into his car and drove off.
To this day I still imagine about the what if scenario and how close I was to being kidnapped and potentially killed."
"I was swimming with my dad and my younger brother in a lake. We had one of those decent sized blow-up rafts that we brought out to play around on.
I thought it was cool to swim underneath the raft and surface on the other side. The third time I tried this, my little brother jumped into the raft and his body slammed into my head while I was swimming underneath, completely disorienting me.
I remember just inhaling tons of water and trying to figure out which way was up and every time I tried surfacing I'd hit the bottom of the raft and become disoriented again. I could feel myself starting to black out before I pulled myself up around the side of the raft.
No one even knew anything was wrong until I started heaving up water and coughing.
Similar to this when I was around 8 I didn't know how to swim very well and was at my grandmother's neighbors home playing in their pool with a friend my age. Accidentally stepped out of the shallow end and slid into the deep end and remember just sitting at the bottom staring up at the surface and starting to black out. My friend's mother dove in and saved me."
"When I was in middle school I called my mom on my cell during lunch because my head hurt so badly I couldn't move. Well, the nurse came and brought me to the office for a checkup and some pain pills while I waited for my mom (we didn't live close). I had no headache when I arrived at school. By lunch time, I couldn't move on my own and I couldn't see because light was too bright. The nurse came to get me and I didn't have a fever.
My mom came and when she watched me get into her truck, she decided that maybe we should go to the hospital to be safe. By the time we reached the hospital, my temp was at 104 and I was incapacitated. I had viral meningitis but it progressed very quickly. If we went home and she put me to bed like the nurse suggested, I never would have woken up. She never gave me or my mother advice again, just told symptoms and gave pain meds."
"My brother had a hard time in college; he didn’t like his major, but didn’t have any other ideas and had a hard time being motivated to attend class. The final straw was when he ended a semester and was trying to get ready for the next semester: he was dropped by the scholarship that was paying his tuition for not making above a 3.5. He tried to hang himself in his closet one day. He told me right after in hysterics.
He said he started blacking out and his head was fuzzy when his dog (half pit/half Australian cattle dog) positioned herself under him, barking and released the tension on his neck. He got out of it and called me. He doesn’t like to talk about it because it was really traumatic and (he said) embarrassing (because of the stigma in our community). But he told me a few times that the instant he started blacking out, he regretted it and didn’t want to die. When he called me, I had a grown man crying and saying, 'It was so scary! I was so scared!'
Needless to say: the dog is highly regarded now."
"A friend asked for a ride on my motorcycle, so I let him wear the spare helmet and took him for seafood at Neptune's Net in Malibu, where some of the nearby beach houses have driveways that lead directly onto the highway. While we were on the return trip back toward Santa Monica, an SUV pulled onto my lane.
There was absolutely no time to brake.
As a precaution against this kind of thing, I always watch the wheels of parked vehicles for movement and I always rest a thumb on the horn. So I saw trouble brewing, honked as soon as the other vehicle started to move, and changed lanes.
The driver of that SUV neither saw me coming nor responded to the horn. The only reason we didn't have a t-bone collision was because of that lane change. I skirted around it with about a foot and a half to spare.
It wasn't the closest call I've ever had but it was the only one where I was responsible for another person. I would have known to leap off the seat just before impact but the passenger wouldn't. It turned out later he didn't even realize we'd nearly been in an accident -- probably because his head was turned to enjoy the ocean view.
The laws of physics made that swerve especially difficult because I'm a slender woman; the passenger weighed 40 pounds more than me."
"My friend and I were taking an elevator down to the cafeteria in our dorm in college. For some reason, we were arguing about something when the doors opened, so we hung back for a second.
Then the elevator dropped two floors with the doors open.
I still hate getting in and out of elevators and I do a weird running start every time."
"Outside my college dorm my freshman year there was this 'stoop' that was half under the building, half out from under it. The building was 18 stories tall.
So I'm out there, sitting on the steps, but not under the building and I get up for no real reason and walk under the building. As soon as I get under the building, a huge sheet of glass falls right where I was sitting.
Some idiots where messing around on the 11th floor and knocked a 10x9 window pane out of its mooring."
"When I was in high school, I was attacked by a man who slammed me up against a brick wall and started banging my head against it, hard.
After about the third bang, I realized he was trying to knock me unconscious, so I closed my eyes and acted like I'd passed out. He let me fall to the ground, and he took a second to position himself on top me. That's when I scrambled out of his reach and took off running.
I'm pretty sure that if he'd gotten his hands on me again I wouldn't be alive right now."
"When I was about 9 or 10, I was in the basement helping my grandma do laundry. She had a big braided rug on the floor and I was bouncing all over the place. I was wearing socks and jumping on and off the rug.
She bent over to get something out of the dryer and reached across the rug to grab something. I realized what she was reaching for was a snake, just inches between the two of us. I yelled at her to STOP, we both screamed, and the snake quickly took on an aggressive posture.
I ran outside and grabbed a broom and my grandma started beating the poor thing to death with it. My grandpa heard the commotion and rushed downstairs and delivered the fatal blow.
Turns out that little nope noodle that snuck into the house was a venomous copperhead."
"My boyfriend at the time put his arms around my neck and choked me. I remember panicking and trying to kick and pull his arm away. I remember thinking clearly that I needed to get him off me to let him know I couldn't breathe. After a moment of struggling I remember thinking, 'I guess this is it. Goodbye.' And then falling asleep.
I was so disoriented when I regained consciousness. He was crying and panicking, I was hyperventilating but I felt like I just woke up and didn't understand what was happening. He was my first lover at 15 who so slowly became physically and verbally abusive that I didn't realize I was in an abusive relationship until that happened. Wish I could say I left that night, but it continued on for many months because I was young and dumb. I'm fine now"